The third set of molars are referred to as “wisdom teeth” because they appear later in life, when people are thought to be more mature and wise. I don’t know if wisdom teeth make you wiser, but they can certainly cause a lot of problems! Most people have four wisdom teeth, although it’s not unheard of to have fewer – or even more! Wisdom teeth are interesting because they are vestigial, much like an appendix. They aren’t typically necessary for most people, and most people are healthier without them.
A wisdom tooth looks much like other teeth, but they are usually broader and thicker. The tooth fairy should give you extra for them, because they are a lot bigger than other teeth. The upper wisdom teeth (Maxillary) usually have three roots, while the lower (Mandibular) wisdom teeth usually have two roots.
A lot of research and science is conducted to help us learn about wisdom teeth. For most of recorded history, people have reported problems with wisdom teeth, because they hurt so much. In addition to the problems that people face with normal teeth, wisdom teeth can have other issues. Wisdom teeth extraction is used as a method to deal with some of these problems:
Many people will have wisdom teeth grow in normally, but they are so big they will cause all of the other teeth in the mouth to shift. This is like if you are in a car that has room for 4 people, but you try and shove in 3 more. Crooked teeth or jaw misalignment can develop because there just isn’t enough space. This is not very fun, and it can make chewing uncomfortable. It can also change the way your smile looks.
Wisdom teeth extraction is almost always necessary when they are impacted. All this means is that the wisdom teeth never quite “erupt” or poke through the gumline. You will probably not even see them, because they can only be detected by X-Rays or other scans. Sometime wisdom teeth will be partially impacted, which means that they have popped through the gums, but not the entire tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth often times can be very painful, and they are also very hard to clean. Impacted teeth are more likely to develop decay and gum disease.
Dr. Baker and I can determine whether or not your third molars need to be removed. We have years of experience dealing with wisdom teeth extraction, and we have helped people all over Southeast Idaho. We use digital X-Rays to look at the shape and structure of the wisdom teeth, and a thorough examination helps us to give you all of your options. We make sure to fully explain exactly how the procedure works, and what you can do to help it go as smoothly as possible.
During the surgery, we use sedation to ensure a quick and comfortable experience. When your wisdom teeth are removed, recovery typically only takes a few days.
These articles and web links give great information about what you can expect during wisdom teeth extraction.